Who wants to hear a story that doesn't entertain and doesn't have a happy ending? Or that ends without an ending, like a batch of half-baked brownies: All the ingredients in the proper order and proportion; the pan, hot; the air, thick with chocolate; and the brownies, firm around the edges but soupy in the middle.
Some stories are like that.
This story begins about five years ago, when Dave came to live with the Stanley clan. It was strictly a temporary arrangement. He was 20 years old and freshly discharged from the military under specifically non-specific circumstances. His family wouldn't let him stay with them, Dave had been a classmate of the youngest Stanley kid, and the house was overflowing with too many people, too many pets, and only one bathroom. What the heck, why not.
Dave was fastidious about his hair and his clothing and he paid a lot of attention to on-line gaming and his appetite. He paid very little attention to cleaning up behind himself, helping out around the house, putting gas in the car when he borrowed it, and looking for a job. But he was pleasant and talked a good game and helped the Band in the Basement line up local gigs and plan its East Coast Summer Tour Debut.
One morning the Stanley sons took Dave to the emergency room because an ear infection and fever left him insensible. In retrospect, there may have been other contributing factors. One night the cops called our house because a Stanley vehicle was seen racing through a local housing development. It turned out that it was Dave who'd been driving. Flat Stanley put Dave on the phone for a good-ol' fashioned chewing out by the police.
After a few months the situation was losing its sense of do-good. Dave's Dad was practically a stalker, calling a couple times a week to explain to us how bad Dave was, what his history was, and why it was important for Dave to be thrown out so he would be forced to take care of himself. And Dave did have a horrifically sad story for his first eight years of life. The best part was being abandoned by his family, becoming a ward of the state and dumped at an orphanage, followed by adoption by the family that first loved him and then came to fear him.
After about six months, Dave stopped looking for a job, stopped pretending that he was looking for a job, and stopped pretending that he even cared that we cared that he look for a job. He stopped pretending that the Stanley residence was anything other than a personal convenience. He's spend all morning in bed, all afternoon and evening playing computer games, and most of the night drifting in and out of the house according to his own unpredictable schedules. He was starting to get scary, and Flat Stanley was starting to get pissed.
Flat Stanley came home for lunch one Tuesday and waved hello to Dave, who was standing out on the sidewalk waiting for a ride. He'd had a choice – get a job or leave the house by noon. He waved back and picked up his duffel bag as a car pulled up. It was Dave's dad. Flat Stanley checked the bedroom to be sure Dave had actually packed.When she looked out the window Dave was gone and it was raining.
Dave hung around the area and began dealing hard drugs. In and out of jail for small-time crimes such as possession and receiving stolen property. Last week he made local headlines for the attempted murder of a high school friend and the friend's mother about two hours after being paroled. They'll be ok. Dave's still not been caught.
Update: Dave taken into custody Dec. 30. He hadn't left the county, much less the zip code.